Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were to the fore once again as Manchester United saw off Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 at Old Trafford to move back into the top half of the Premier League table.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men impressed in Thursday's 3-0 Europa League victory over Partizan Belgrade, which Martial and Rashford scored in, and the forwards both played crucial roles again as a resilient Brighton were dispatched fairly comfortably.
United looked as though they were going to cruise to victory during the early exchanges, as they found themselves 2-0 up thanks to a couple of fortuitous goals from Andreas Pereira and Davy Propper, who beat his own goalkeeper.
Lewis Dunk pulled one back for Brighton just past the hour, but Rashford - set up by Martial - lashed in soon after to seal the points, though United arguably should have added several more goals, with the England star, Daniel James and Brandon Williams all going close.
United began with real purpose but were extremely fortunate to open the scoring in the 17th minute.
Pereira was guilty of overplaying on the counter and was dispossessed, but the ball came to Martial and he teed the Brazilian up again, with the eventual shot finding the net via a massive deflection.
The hosts were lucky again soon after, as Scott McTominay attempted to bundle over the line and Propper prodded it into his own net.
Chances came at both ends just past the hour – Mat Ryan unconvincingly knocking Fred's long-range effort on to the crossbar, before Dunk lost Pereira at a corner to emphatically head Brighton back into the contest.
Rashford restored the two-goal lead two minutes later, however, crashing an effort in off the crossbar after Martial teed his strike partner up.
An awful miss from Rashford was followed by saves to deny him, Williams and James, but Brighton were unable to make United rue their wastefulness.
A late ankle injury suffered by McTominay, which left the midfielder in considerable pain, was the only significant dampener on an otherwise fine day for the Red Devils.
What does it mean? United moving in the right direction
It has not been a straightforward start to the season, but in recent weeks United have shown signs of getting back to the side they were during Solskjaer's days as caretaker manager.
In that period, Rashford and Martial were vital and it is no surprise to see them central to most of what is good about United at the moment. While seventh place is hardly impressive, they are now just a point adrift of Sheffield United and Arsenal.
Fred finding his feet
This was arguably Fred's best performance in a United shirt. His passing was crisp, he moved the ball on quickly and played a role in two of the three goals. Perhaps he is not the dud many claimed he was.
Pereira out of his depth
While he did manage to score a goal, there was little to recommend in Pereira's performance. It remains something of a mystery how he manages to retain a place in the starting XI.
Key Opta Facts
- United are unbeaten in their last seven games at Old Trafford across all competitions (W4 D3 L0); their longest run under the same manager since March 2018, when they went eight without defeat under Jose Mourinho.
- Brighton have not won any of their 15 Premier League away games against 'big six' opposition (W0 D1 L14), scoring just four goals and conceding 33.
- Propper's own goal saw United take a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute (18:50), the quickest they have been two goals up in a Premier League game at Old Trafford since May 2017 against Crystal Palace (18:15).
- Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Brighton have scored more own goals (seven) than any other team in the Premier League.
- United named the youngest starting line-up in a Premier League game this season (23y 350d), and their youngest since a 2-0 win over Palace back in May 2017 (22y 284d).
- Williams became only the second player born in the 2000s to start a Premier League match for Manchester United, following Mason Greenwood.
United travel to the high-flying Blades after the international break, while Brighton host Leicester City in their next game.